“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”

In a comment on my previous post (introducing the new video “Ukraine is a World of Love” by Alicia Kishe), a friend wrote, “It was painful watching the video of Alicia. The beauty and sweetness I saw … and Putin blowing it up.”



By the way, folks, be happy for Alicia Kishe.  I happen to know from experience of her elsewhere that she is thrilled to see Views and Likes and Subscribes.  Please reward her.  It will mean a lot to her.  For a little extra fun, here is Alicia’s latest self-made 19-second home video, posted April 26, 2022, titled, “I Just Dance.”  Stop by and give her a Like and good wishes:


Cracks me up.

My reply to my friend’s comment got out of hand, so I moved it to this new post instead of a comment.

Friend, I believe that you speak for many people who get struck by the video that way, but most would not say so out loud as you have, for fear that they would be admitting that they did not “get it” in the expected or “appropriately” sentimental way. That kind of expectation just adds to the pain.  The only “appropriate” way is to try, as one is able, to keep an open mind.  That can be hard to do in pain.

You got me thinking more about the ways Alicia’s video can affect people, and about the overall situation in Ukraine and my relationship with it.

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The Putin Circus and a child’s love of her homeland in song

Please share this funny Putin video if you like it.  That’s why I post them.  So you can share them.  This is the YouTube link to share: https://youtu.be/t-wFKNy0MZQ if you are not foolish enough to share the link to the blog post you are looking at.  Doesn’t matter.  I’ll never know.  But I do not mind at all being a fool for the glory of Ukraine, in silly ways and others.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you … below the comedy here, there’s also the April 24, 2022 world premier official music video of the Ukrainian very young lady Alicia Kishe, accompanied by her father Timothy, singing the song she wrote, “Ukraine is a World of Love” sung in Ukrainian (a language that gets more beautiful the more you hear it) with English subtitles.  I think some people will like it; fools like me and otherwise.  Please share it when you get done adoring it.  Then adore it some more.  Let Alicia be Ukraine to you for a while.

TURN ON CAPTIONS (CC AT THE BOTTOM OF THE VIDEO WINDOW) TO SEE THE ENGLISH SUBTITLES.  It works best if you watch it at the YouTube site.  For a special treat, run them in full screen mode.

Vladimir Putin – Putin, Putout (The Unofficial Russian Anthem) by Klemen Slakonja

[The name Vladimir means “ruler of the world” or “ruler of peace.”]



Enough of the funny stuff.  Now for the heart-melting beautiful stuff, what you always come here for, of course …

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We don’t know — Arctic methane says so

We don’t know how long we have.  The more we heat up the planet, the more we reach “tipping points,” where “positive feedback loops” that we set in motion become Earth’s way of consuming itself.  Our models for predicting effects of human-caused climate change do not — cannot — take into account the potential for the feedback loops running out of control, beyond reach of any mitigating efforts we may make.

So, what, then?

We have to simply stop feeding carbon into the air.  Just stop, in every way we can, as much as possible, everywhere, and punish those who resist.  They don’t call it “an existential threat” for nothing.  Why treat it as less?

Lesser efforts, lesser objectives, raise the risk beyond our ability to measure, as shown below in the new PBS Nova episode, “Arctic Sinkholes.”

As the authors explain, the craters look like sinkholes to the naked eye, but they are not sinkholes.  They are massive, explosive and incessant methane leaks from the arctic permafrost.

The rate of increase in the arctic temperature is twice that of the planetary average.  The permafrost — ground frozen continuously for at least two years, but also thousands of feet deep for millennia — is thawing, and opening big methane vents at alarming rates.

We don’t know how many there are, or will be.  We don’t know their ultimate effect.  We don’t know if our feeble efforts to stop killing our planet can begin to take into account the effects of thawing permafrost.

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Did Lockdown Spring Bring a Lasting Connection to Nature?

Some of this data confuses me, but the part that stands out as most important is the “noticing.”. I often refer to it as nature immersion, as opposed to nature visiting.

Finding Nature

A blog with Dr Carly Butler.

Many of us found a friend in nature during the first lockdown in Spring 2020 but new data suggests this was just a short-term relationship for some. The latest data from Natural England’s People and Nature Survey shows that levels of nature connectedness fell by 25% between April 2020 and April 2021, meaning fewer people reported feeling a part of nature.

It’s not that people have stopped visiting nature, as the proportion of people accessing green and natural spaces grew during lockdown and has stayed higher. As lockdowns eased, it’s likely that people took the opportunity to meet with others and engage in outdoor activities. But it seems that the boost to ‘noticing nature’ in the quiet times of April and May 2020 has diminished. The data shows a 13% drop in the percentage of people reporting they are taking time to notice and…

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Sixteen Years This Winter

For Nuala with gratitude

That’s Nuala’s Maple in the header image above.  (For those who missed it in an earlier post, Nuala is pronounced NOO-lah.)

Tuesday Afternoon (4:56) Link to video

Tuesday Afternoon
by The Moody Blues

Tuesday afternoon
I’m just beginning to see
Now I’m on my way
It doesn’t matter to me
Chasing the clouds away

Something calls to me
The trees are drawing me near
I’ve got to find out why
Those gentle voices I hear
Explain it all with a sigh

I’m looking at myself, reflections of my mind
It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind
So gently swaying through the fairy-land of love
If you’ll just come with me and see the beauty of

Tuesday afternoon
Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday afternoon
I’m just beginning to see
Now I’m on my way
It doesn’t matter to me
Chasing the clouds away

Something calls to me
The trees are drawing me near
I’ve got to find out why
Those gentle voices I hear
Explain it all with a sigh


It’s one world NOW, huh?

“Dance” by Henri Matisse, 1909

I never paid much attention to this Matisse painting until recently when I added it to my screen saver collection. I now see that Matisse’s dancers are all women. Good. That’s the stuff of a one-world mind, because men are feudal. Women are the more evolved half of humanity. I’m not kidding.

In a pandemic, everyone is responsible for everyone else in the world. Everyone fights for everyone to win. If they don’t do it together, it cannot be done. The virus will continue to flourish. We walk and stand together or fall down together. Frankly, that’s a scary thought.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T ALL WASH OUR HANDS. Photo: Spencer Tunick Arrow To Washington, NYC, 1995

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Halloween Wind Storm

It scattered seventy trees across or into Balsamea’s 2.5 miles of trails.   It’s seventy-give-or-take; I lost count a couple of times while stopping to think about how to deal with some of the fallen trees.  Thinking never has been a reliably good idea.  It often interferes with nobler processes, even vital ones.

The big winds came on Thursday and Friday, October 31 & November 1, 2019.  It is the biggest such storm tree impact in Balsamea’s 14.5-year history.  Before now, the biggest one was the “717 Storm” of July 17, 2012.

I’ll never forget the way my heart sank into my stomach when I found 33 trees on the trails on July 18, 2012.  Working on clearing them and rerouting paths around some of them — never with a chainsaw, which violates Balsamea law — I learned that it was good for me and good for the trails.  Often when I addressed a change that Nature threw onto a trail, the result was a better trail or connection to another trail.  I’m sure I don’t have to explain why it’s good for me to go work in the woods, for mind and body and whatever else I may be.

My little Cadivus story of September 7, 2018 explains the immersive experience of co-creating trails with Nature.  Handy excerpts if you don’t want to read the Cadivus post (I don’t blame you):

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Starring Nuala’s Maple Tree

(continued from Nuala’s Tree and Concordia post)

Nuala’s Tree is a red maple (Acer rubrum) with four partly intertwining trunks rooted at the edge of a big old pine stump.  I dedicated the tree to Nuala in 2009 or earlier.  The oldest picture I have is from 2009, below.

June 6, 2009. Viewed from south.

September 13, 2019

The brighter background is because of the logging next door. It changes the habitat of Balsamea forever in several ways.  I try not to think about it anymore.

Concordia is a park-like area of about 0.3 acre surrounding Nuala’s Tree.  Almost all of the development of Concordia occurred in August-September 2019.  Before that, there was just some minor maintenance to keep the tree from being overgrown by pines and balsam firs.

I don’t need to give special attention to a tree for it to have personal meaning, nor need I seek personal meaning in a tree.  However, sometimes a tree seeks it in me, like a contemplative interaction probing the soul.  That’s Nuala’s Tree.
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Normal People Anonymous Support Group

I’m thinking about starting a normal people anonymous support group.

Members have the right to define normal for themselves but not for anyone else in the group.

You’re anonymous to each other, at least at the start of your membership.  If you surrender your anonymity with another member, that’s okay.  You can still attend, together or separately, but it is recommended that you come out of the closet about it, for your own good.

If you have sex with somebody in the group, that’s normal, even if you remain otherwise anonymous to each other.

You do peer-led programs, activities or projects together, such as 12 steps, meditation, yoga, hiking, book study, nature study, photography, joke-telling, litter cleanup, gardening, sailing, canoeing, singing, teaching disenfranchised children how to fish, putting Kahlil Gibran in every hotel room, Christmas caroling in July, picketing industrial cattle and chicken growers, making art together, including music, Amazon forest fire-fighting, skinny-dipping (peer-led), putting on a play about climate change and domestic abuse of males, or what-have-you things that normal people do.

The normality of the activity is as beheld by the peer leader, and you quietly accept it and have fun, perhaps expanding or shattering your notions of normal, and squelching the ferocity of your clinging to them.

The peer-led things, the anonymity, and the group dynamic are good for you.  You affirm this aloud in unison at every meeting and outing, holding hands in a circle, a perfectly normal thing to do with strangers.

The anonymity is to help avoid the stigma of being normal, even more normal than most others are.  In the group, you can enjoy — if possible — a place where you can be non-judgmentally welcomed by similarly frustrated normal people.  You define “non-judgmental” loosely, considering its extremely elusive nature, like unconditional love.

You take it all lightly with good humor because you all know that normal exists only from your perspective in the mirror.  That is the guiding principle.  Take your normality lightly.  You affirm it together in unison, religiously, sorta.

Copyright 2019 TheBalsamean.comOver time, with consistent participation, you may be able to give up excessive notions of your normality, as one might give up excessive drinking, smoking, or gambling, and be freed of the pathetic frustration you inflict upon your deluded self.  Amen.

Take your normality lightly.